I’ve written about Angeline McConnaughey Reeves and her family — particularly her daughter Carrie Reeves Williams. But what of her other children?
A short notice appeared in the 14 March 1895 edition of the Charlotte Observer:
Frank Eccles and Ada Reeves, colored, were married Tuesday night. The groom is Farrior’s man “Friday.” He is a good citizen and deserves happiness and prosperity.
Five years later, the census taker trudging through Charlotte’s Fourth Ward knocked at the door of 413 Eighth Street. Forty-two year-old Angeline Reeves likely answered the door. In response to the enumerator’s queries, she identified her husband Fletcher as the head of household and detailed the three children remaining at home — 18 year-old Frank, 16 year-old Edna, and 12 year-old John. Daughter Ada, her husband Frank and 4 year-old son Harry were probably living in Charlotte, but seem to have given the enumerator the slip.
Frank married Kate Smith in Charlotte in 1902; their ill-fated story is told here. Edna was next to wed. In 1905, at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte, William H. Kiner applied for a marriage license for himself, age 25, of Boston, Massachusetts, colored, son of Anderson and Agnes Kiner, and Edna Reeves, age 20, of Charlotte, colored, daughter of Fletcher Reeves and Angeline Reeves. Robert B. Bruce, minister of the AME Zion Church, united them in matrimony on 5 April 1905 at the bride’s residence. According to Kiner family researcher Peggy Jorde, William Henry Kiner, actually a native of Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia, had come to Charlotte to study theology at Biddle University.
William and Edna’s first son, Addison F., was born in Charlotte in 1906, but by the following summer, when son Carroll Milton arrived, the Kiners were permanent residents of Massachusetts. Carroll has two birth records, one listing his birth place as Oak Bluffs, and a second listing Cambridge. On the first, William’s occupation was described as theological student.
Edna Reeves Kiner was not the only one of Fletcher and Angeline’s children to pack up and move north to the Bay State. The 1910 census of Cambridge, Middlesex County, shows William H. Kiner, wife Edna E., children Addison F., 4, and Carroll M., 2, sister-in-law Ada Ecles, and brother-in-law John H. Reeves living at 8 Rockwell Street. William worked as a clothes presser in a tailor shop, Ada as a servant, and John as a hotel waiter. Ada’s husband Frank (and son Harry) are nowhere to be seen, but “Aida” Eccles appears a second time in Cambridge as a servant in the household of George W. Clapp, a self-employed chemist.
John Reeves’ stay in New England did not last long. In April of 1915, at the age of 26, he died of tuberculosis in a state hospital.
Meanwhile, it’s not clear that William Kiner was ever able to respond to his religious calling. When he registered for the World War I draft in 1918, he was working as a chipper in a foundry at Hunt-Spiller Corporation.
Two years later, when the 1920 census of Cambridge was recorded, William was described as a chipper in a shipyard. His family, still at 8 Rockwell Street, included wife Edna E. and children Addison F., Carroll M., and Evelyn C. Kiner. Ada Eccles and her 23 year-old son Harry Eccles, a laundry janitor, had found their own lodging and appear in the 7th Ward at 65 Grigg Street.
I have found no death certificate for William H. Kiner, but assume that he died between 1923, when he last appears in a Cambridge city directory, and 1930. In the latter year, the census taker listed his widow widow Edna M. Kiner, her children Addison F., Carrell M., and Evelyn C., plus aunt (sister, actually) Ada M. Eccles living on Essex Street in Cambridge in the household of Joseph S. Blackburn, a black Kentucky-born railroad porter, and his wife Cynthia, a beauty shop manicurist born in Maine. Addison worked as a department store elevator operator and Carrell as a shoestore porter.
The Kiners emerged from the Great Depression decentralized. In 1940 census, Edna Kiner was over the river in Boston, Suffolk County, living in an apartment or shared house at 361 Massachusetts Avenue. Her son Carroll Kiner, a 32 year-old shoe store porter, lived in Cambridge with his Virginia-born wife Ella and three year-old daughter Caroline at 27 Pleasant Street. Addison Kiner was not captured in the census, but he seems to have remained in Massachusetts and was active in Cambridge’s small African-American social scene.
The Afro-American, 20 June 1942.
Daughter Evelyn C. Kiner had completely escaped the Bay State orbit, however, having moved to New York City and begun work as a social worker with the Department of Welfare. She was living in the heart of Harlem at 172 West 127th Street, between Lenox Avenue and what was then Seventh Avenue. She quickly integrated into the Harlem world and over the next ten or years or so appears half-a-dozen times in the social columns of the New York Age. Evelyn’s primary social activities swirled around her membership in the National Urban League Guild, but she was also actively involved in civic outreach through the Church of the Master, a Presbyterian congregation at West 122nd and Morningside.
City directories show that Edna’s sons remained in the Boston area the remainder of their lives. She, however, moved to New York to live with Evelyn in her declining years and died there in August 1969. I don’t know exactly when Carroll died, but I’m a little haunted by how closely my path crossed with Addison and Evelyn. In the fall of 1986, I arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for my first semester of law school. My residence hall, a graceless, L-shaped brick hulk, was at the campus’ far northwest corner, at Massachusetts Avenue and Everett Street. (I lived on the fourth floor of Wyeth Hall that year. Michelle Robinson Obama lived in the suite one floor above.) Unbeknownst to me, if I had walked a mile straight up Mass Ave, turned left on Walden Street, and knocked at No. 28, Addison Kiner would have answered the door. As far I can tell, he lived there for the three years that I was in Cambridge. He died 7 May 1990. After law school, I enrolled in graduate school at Columbia University. For the two years I was there, I lived in an apartment building on 121st Street, at the crest of the hill between Broadway and Amsterdam. Walking west down 121st led me to the edge of Morningside Park. Had I descended through it — and I didn’t in that era, which was crazy, crack-ravaged Manhattan at its nadir — I’d have landed on the plain of central Harlem just a block or two from Evelyn Kiner’s beloved Church of the Master. She died in February 2003, and the church was demolished six years later.